A Woman In Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert
These neatly assembled excerpts writings from Gertrude Bell’s remarkable Middle Eastern diaries and almost daily letters to parents and friends highlight the career of an exceptional traveler-diplomat-intelligence officer who excelled in a male-dominated world. Born into a wealthy British family in 1858, Bell studied history at Oxford University. She mastered mountaineering, photography, mapmaking, archeology and six languages before embarking in 1892 on travel throughout the Middle East—much of it by horse and camel—that occupied the rest of her life. Bell’s political dispatches to the British government and military during World War I provided the detailed knowledge of desert wells and complex tribal alliances that helped defeat Ottoman forces in the region. Her acquaintance with rulers there gave her advice even more weight. At the war’s conclusion, she was instrumental in establishing the states of Transjordan and Iraq and the coronation of their first kings, then in establishing the Iraq Museum. Bell died in Baghdad in 1926, two days short of her 58th birthday.